COLUMBIA - Volunteers and workers for D-D Farm in Columbia made changes to the facility Friday to avoid being shutdown on Sunday. The USDA has threatened to close the farm and take away the animals. The animal sanctuary, located off of Creasy Springs Road, has violations that include inadequate enclosures for lions and tigers, as well as issues with sanitation and veterinarian care. There are more than 15 violations that the farm must fix in order to stay open.
Owners Dale and Debbie Tolentino have owned and run D-D Farm for more than 20 years and fear its closure could mean the animals will get euthanized. The owners said the changes are uncalled for and unexpected, arguing the USDA told them the farm passed inspection in November.
The farm has approximately 120 different animals such as lions, cougars, horses, dogs and bobcats just to name a few. It is a sanctuary that rescues animals from abuse and/or abandonment.
Joe Schreibvogel, president for the United States Zoological Association, brought a crew up to Columbia to help the farm make the changes. The workers will only be in town Friday and are working through the rain until dark to get as much done as possible. Schreibvogel said he is confident the farm will make the appropriate changes and will not have to close come Sunday.
The owners said the changes the farm is making will cost around $30,000, money it doesn't have. The couple said the community, volunteers and Schreibvogel's crew are helping make the improvements a possibility. If the USDA decides to close the farm, Schreibvogel plans to transfer the animals to the G.W. Exotic Animal Farm in Oklahoma City so they won't be killed.
For more information on D-D Farms or to find out how you can help click here.